Gonzales Mine from the Quebradas Byway

 

The Quebradas Backcountry Byway takes you off pavement and into hills east of the Rio Grande near Socorro. The byway provides access to many square miles of undeveloped country that’s begging to be hiked. I picked up this specific hike from the Albuquerque Senior Center Hiking Group web site, and liked it so much that I’ll  include it here (with minor modifications). Part of the hike follows a wash bottom, so don’t do the hike when flash flooding is possible.

 

Heading south from Albuquerque on I-25, turn off at the Lemitar exit and cross east over the freeway into Lemitar. Once in Lemitar, turn south on NM 408. Continue south about 3 miles, then take a left at 34 deg. 7.170 min. N, 106 deg. 53.549 min. W, onto Chaparral Loop, which becomes Pueblitos Road. Cross the Rio Grande. 

 

On the far side of the river is an intersection (at 34 deg. 7.301 min. N, 106 deg. 52.736 min. W) where your options are to turn left or right or to continue into a private driveway. Turn right. After about 160 meters the main road will curl left (east). Follow this road (Bosquecito Road) as it then curls right (south) and heads down the valley. At 34 deg. 6.645 min. N, 106 deg. 52.304 min. W, turn left (east) to start the Quebradas Backcountry Byway. 

 

You’ll be driving the byway for a while, first mostly east, then mostly south. At 34 deg. 5.020 min. N, 106 deg. 46.805 min. W, the byway crosses Arroyo Tinajas. Find a place to pull off, out of the arroyo bottom, and park.

 

To begin the hike, follow the arroyo bed downstream (southwest). At 34 deg. 4.039 min. N, 106 deg. 47.945 min. W, a two-track road leaves the arroyo. If you continue downstream, you’ll quickly encounter a dry waterfall that blocks further passage. Instead, take the two-track north and west. At 34 deg. 4.387 min. N, 106 deg. 48.247 min. W the road crosses a small wash; from there on the road heads mostly north. 

 

At 34 deg. 4.951 min. N, 106 deg. 48.369 min. W, you will encounter what’s left of the Gonzales mine. Like all mines with open workings, this one poses dangers: explore at your own risk. Afterwards, you can retrace your steps to complete the hike. Or make a loop of it by following the rest of this guide.

 

For the loop option, continue north along the same road you followed to the mine. At 34 deg. 5.280 min. N, 106 deg. 48.458 min. W, turn right off the road and head east, slowly curling southeast, until you intersect a path. Turn right and follow the path. As a check on your location, the path crosses a small drainage at 34 deg. 5.261 min. N, 106 deg. 48.339 min. W. From there the path heads southeast, then turns northeast to zigzag to the top of the ridge.

 

Once on the ridge line head northwest, to 34 deg. 5.373 min. N, 106 deg. 48.207 min. W. The path continues along the ridge, but instead follow a lesser path that drops off the ridge line and heads down the far side of the ridge and to the east. Pass through a notch in a lower ridge, into the local valley. Navigate cross-country to a gap between two low ridges, at 34 deg. 5.145 min. N, 106 deg. 47.497 min. N. From there, navigate back to your parking spot. You will need to cross a fence that runs east-west through the gap, so follow the fence east until you find an easy place to get under the barbed wire.